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Dental Visits Ward Off Pneumonia

Dental Visits Ward Off Pneumonia

In the Friends episode, “The One with Ross’ Teeth,” Ross (David Schwimmer) over-bleaches his teeth for an upcoming date, leaving him with glaringly white choppers. Unfortunately, when his date leads him into her living room, it’s lit with black light, making his mouth glow like a poster from Haight Ashbury in 1966. “What’s the matter with you?” asks the woman. “What’s the matter with me?” he shoots back. “You’ve got a black light! It’s 1999!”

Well, a study has turned a bright light on some pretty startling facts about your teeth (and gets glowing reviews from us). Research presented at The Infectious Diseases Society of America conference looked at around 26,000 people and found those who never got dental checkups had an 86 percent higher risk of pneumonia than people who visited the dentist twice a year. That’s because regular dental visits can reduce the presence of oral bacteria, such as streptococcus, haemophilus and staphylococcus, which can trigger pneumonia if they make their way into your airways. 

And there are other benefits of regular dental checkups and cleanings: Many studies find people with less oral plaque have lower levels of body-wide inflammation that can lead to artery-wall thickening, a risk factor for heart disease, cognitive problems and a lousy sex life. And all of those make your RealAge older. You can get a younger RealAge simply by brushing twice and flossing at least once daily. Then make a date with your dentist. You’ll be doing more for yourself than brightening your teeth!

Medically reviewed in December 2018.

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